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At the Poles, Life Thrives Located beside the Shores and Shallows gallery (which highlights different kinds of coastal ecosystems around the world), the Poles area will take you to the ends of the earth...
The National Ice Center’s work is focused on ensuring safe and efficient...
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In the spring of 2011, a research crew from Oceana spent two months in the...
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The threat that climate change poses to polar bears has received a lot of...

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In Antarctica's Southern Ocean swims a beautiful polychaete (bristly worm) called Tomopteris carpenteri , which is adorned with alternating red and transparent bands. The largest species in its genus, it it found throughout the...
This copepod Calanus hyperboreus (up to 7mm in length) lives in the Arctic...
Three distinct types of killer whale, or orcas, can be found in the...

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Travel to the ends of the earth—literally—and discover the polar ocean basins. Both the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean...
Travel to the ends of the earth—literally—and discover the polar ocean basins. Both the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean are defined by ice and dramatic shifts between endless day and endless...
Scientists know the Greenland shark ( Somniosus microcephalus ) moves slowly in the Arctic's cold water. They also know that parasites attack the shark's eyes. But much about this animal remains a...
An isopod stands on top of a glass sponge, extending its legs to find zooplankton. This delicate sponge is small, but some glass sponges can grow to the size of a 50-gallon drum and live for...
Despite the cold and dark environment, soft-bodied animals like anemones abound under the ice. Using their sticky arms, they grab zooplankton, which can be hard to come by during the long winter with...
Ice divers use a quadrat to study the density of creatures living on the underside of Arctic ice floes. A quadrat is a standardized square used to take sample measurements that allow researchers to...
Hidden beneath Arctic ice is a world few have ever seen. Take the icy plunge with a team of ice-loving scientists.
At a recent staff meeting a Smithsonian colleague mentioned that one of his pastimes this summer has been keeping tabs on the Arctic sea ice. The question that's on many Arctic-watchers' minds is...
This shadowy fish, Trematomus bernacchii , is well adapted to the ice-cold water of the Antarctic: its blood comes equipped with natural antifreeze. This is a necessary adaptation because the...
Humpback whales ( Megaptera novaengliae ) are the most abundant baleen whale in the nearshore waters around the Antarctic Peninsula. They, along with millions of penguins, seals, seabirds, and other...
The threat that climate change poses to polar bears has received a lot of attention, but they are not the only Arctic species at risk. Ice-loving seals, such as harp, hooded and ringed seals, are...
Bright colors seem to jump off of this comb jelly, or ctenophore. The rainbow effect appears when light emanates from comb jellies' namesake combs, which are rows of cilia that run up and down their...
The Ross Sea, a 1.9 million square mile (3.6 million square km) stretch of ocean off the coast of Antarctica, has been nicknamed “The Last Ocean.” And it’s not just a ploy to get your attention. In...
This copepod Calanus hyperboreus (up to 7mm in length) lives in the Arctic , usually within 500 meters of the surface. To survive the cold Arctic winters, Calanus hyperboreus builds up dense fat (...
Seasons in the Ross Sea are marked by ice freezing and melting, and these processes mix the seawater and redistribute salt and nutrients. The influx of nutrients cause phytoplankton to bloom, forming...
Several species of amphipod like this one, Gammarus wilkitzkii , live permanently within Arctic sea ice . These animals are endemic, meaning they only live here. They acclimate to a wide range of...
Scientists use a multinet to collect Arctic zooplankton samples from different depth layers in the water column .
To people living in warm climates, all ice looks the same. But if you live day-in and day-out on sea ice, like the Inupiaq people of Alaska, you would find that there are many kinds of ice, all...
It takes special equipment and many warm layers of clothing to dive safely beneath Arctic sea ice . Ice divers look for holes in a melt pond in order to enter the frigid waters.
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